Buddhist Holy War? Consider the possibilities…

img_1695 No, I’m not talking about fighting the mean nasty ugly Muslims that fundamentalist Buddhists are supposed to hate because they supposedly ‘destroyed Buddhism in India’ with their medieval invasion, from which Buddhism never quite recovered. But I notice that ‘Hinduism’ recovered, though, hint hint, exposing this as false narrative. It seems that India is not big enough for both, especially when Hinduism is quite happy to include Buddhism under its larger umbrella, making and marketing itself as something of a national religion, if and when it is one, at all…

And no, I’m not talking about the situation in southern Thailand, in which ethnic Malay nationalists in three southern provinces, who just so happen to be Muslim, have fought for years to win back the independence that was taken from them in 1785 with Siam’s annexation of Pattani. Ironically this was only made official in Siam’s treaty with the UK in 1909, in which as much or more territory was simply transferred to UK ownership for the promise that they would recognize Siam’s sovereignty over the rest (and no more, demands, pretty please!)…

But no, I’m talking about Donald F. Trump, as the US prepares for crucial mid-term elections in a few days’ time which will greatly determine the future of that country, my country. It will either get better, or worse, one way or the other, no matter how you look at it. From my perspective, if the Democrats fail to win either house of Congress, then the USA is dead to me, too far gone to save. If they win one house, then the worst days of Trump will be over, at least for now. If they win both, by some miracle, then we can start to remove the Trumpian cancer from our body politic…

So the immediate question is what to do if Trump’s party wins both houses of Congress again, but the larger question is what to do if the neo-fascist trend continues unabated around the world, e.g. Trump, Duterte and the recent Bolsonaro victory in Brazil. How can we live in a world where free and democratic societies elect wannabe dictators whose modus operandi is to curtail those very paths to freedom and individual liberty?

With Putin and Xi Jinping already virtual dictators for life, only Europe is still a bastion of liberal democracy, and things seem pretty ‘iffy’ there, too. Now I’m a Buddhist largely because I see no other means of survival, for myself or the world, something about the outward expansion of the universe until it can expand no more, and then it must collapse in upon itself, unless some means can be found to ensure stability, at any and all costs, till death do us part…

And for me Buddhism is the means to that stability, because it is a fail-safe system, in which nothing must happen by necessity, except the forces of nature, and certain things are absolutely prohibited. In other words: first do no harm. Then and only then decide if anything else is indeed worth doing at all. Do not shoot first, then ask questions later. Now we are at a dangerous crossroads, in which frontiers are limited, and the easy races have all been run. Doors are closing, wars are imminent, and the only path of fulfillment is inward…

So how is this to be done? Just how can Buddhism go about saving the world? Sure it preaches non-violence and moderation, i.e. sustainability, which is a great recipe for worldly (!) success, but how do you go about enforcing that upon the various member states, when currently the most opposite violent aggressive death-wish phase seems to be upon us, e.g. Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping, MBS, etc.? As Buddhists we reject violence as a means to solve problems, whether personal or political, which is as it should be…

So how do we combat repressive regimes in the hope of species survival when we are forbidden to use weapons? The answer may not be as hopeless as it seems, and most certainly has been employed before, as it is being done now, at least in limited form. When the situation gets so bad that we simply can’t take it anymore, we renounce, simply renounce, i.e. “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” Sound familiar? It should. Yes, we hipsters tried this but a half-century ago when our total world population was less than half what it is now, and things seemed dire in many if not most respects…

And even then our best and brightest were warning of the coming ‘population explosion’, and they were right. So that is at least half the problem, even if it’s scarcely mentioned nowadays, presumably because it’s but a symptom of a much larger problem: capitalism, i.e. money for money’s sake, and incessant growth to justify it, for without growth there can be no capitalism, and the whole house of cards come crumbling down upon itself. Then there are the added problems of racism, greed and social injustice…

So we should simply renounce, like people on the street, without a home, no direction shown? If and/or when things get too bad: yes, BUT with a difference—no drugs, drink or general degeneracy, or not much anyway, for this is a holy quest for survival, so we need to be smart, disciplined and dedicated. And this has been occurring for 2500 years, within Buddhism alone, the affiliation of the devoted within a sangha, a community, long before there existed monasteries, and long before there existed Buddhism, even, in the Greater India cultural nexus…

Some latter-day hagiographers even imply that these were ‘happy times’, but I’m not sure I believe it. ‘Happy times’ are not usually defined by the presence of beggars roaming the landscape, with bowl in hand, preaching for supper, even if the founding days of Buddhism. But that is comforting, at least, to think that the darkest of days may just have a sliver of a silver lining to go with them as the harbinger of a new spiritual age…

(to be continued)…